Note: Beginning Academic Year 2018–2019, the MAST degree is a component of the Stackable Curriculum. Please bear with us as we transition our curriculum. Please bear with us as we transition our curriculum. For program details, refer to the 2018–2019 PSR Academic Catalog.


PSR’s Master of Arts degree in Social Transformation (MAST) equips students to think critically about socio-political dynamics and reflect constructively on the role played by religion and theological traditions in movements for social change. This academic program combines the tools and methods of social theory and constructive theology for a distinctive blend of spiritual leadership skills in a rapidly changing world.

For centuries, religious and spiritual leaders have built justice-making communities, rooted in compassion and generosity. To this day, individuals and communities engaged in social transformation embrace multiple, overlapping concerns, from fostering economic and racial justice to promoting gender equality and environmental sustainability.

The social and religious complexities of today’s globalized world demand careful and sustained analysis for social transformation. Effective strategies for social change must rely on an interdisciplinary approach that integrates critical thinking and research with innovative methods for community organizing. Effective leaders will employ these strategies to catalyze collaboration among non-profit organizations, social innovators, and faith communities for a transformed world of social and economic justice, as well as thriving ecosystems, where all can flourish.

Each MAST student works closely with a faculty advisor and a social innovation field work supervisor to devise a course of study leading to an applied project in social transformation. The program prepares students for a wide range of vocational paths, whether in social justice advocacy, non-profit organizational leadership, community organizing and education, or congregational development.

PSR offers a unique history in progressive religious leadership and a richly diverse location, both geographically and in a multi-faith consortium, for this specialized field of study and preparation. MAST students will draw on PSR’s resources to integrate and develop three broad skill sets:

• Methods for social theorizing and ethical analysis;
• Tools for constructive theological reflection and spiritual practice;
• Strategies for collaborative community organizing and network building.

MAST students can add PSR certificate programs to the degree, such as the Certificate of Spirituality and Social Change (CSSC) or the Certificate of Sexuality and Religion (CSR). These combinations usually require additional credit hours but many of the courses can be applied across these programs. Flexible learning options (online and hybrid courses, summer and January term intensives, weekend workshops and seminars) enable students to earn this degree part-time and with minimal residency requirements while still participating in a vibrant cohort of colleagues.

Courses for the MAST are offered by regular and adjunct faculty at Pacific School of Religion and the Graduate Theological Union as well as partner schools and organizations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to regularly offered courses, field work and immersive learning opportunities are designed and arranged through Ignite @ PSR in collaboration with PSR’s Office of Field Education and Contextual Learning.

All of these offerings incorporate the practice of social transformation in the critical analysis of text, tradition, and community. A successful completion of this degree will prepare students to:

• Engage in cultural and political analysis both theologically and ethically, especially for insights into structural inequality, systemic injustice, and institutionalized oppressions;
• Assess, evaluate, and help to prepare faith communities to engage in collaborative partnerships with programs and organizations devoted to systemic social change for the common good;
• Articulate the unique contributions theological and ethical traditions can make to the work of social changemaking in specific sectors, such as economic justice and development, and ecological sustainability;
• Evaluate and appropriate diverse, interdisciplinary strategies for changemaking drawn from the worlds of social innovation, non-profit organizations, and grass-roots community organizing;
• Build and foster communities marked by cross-cultural humility and devoted to collaborative problem solving for transforming social systems of oppressive power.

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